FC: Photo radar update: Colorado Supreme Court upholds ruling

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Thu Nov 07 2002 - 07:21:09 PST

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    Previous Politech message:
    "Denver judge says yep, photo radar program is bad 
    From: "Diamond, Richard" <Richard.Diamondat_private>
    Subject: Colorado Supreme Court upholds ruling against photo radar
    Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 14:05:53 -0500
    Here's a summary of the latest camera news.
    1. Colorado: Colorado's Supreme Court upholds a ruling declaring Denver's 
    photo radar program illegal.  11/5
    2. Sacramento: A judge has contested the trial procedure for red light 
    cameras as flawed. "I think the police, the DA, the traffic court, the 
    whole thing is corrupt," he said. 11/4
    3. New Zealand: A speed camera issues tens of thousands of speeding 
    tickets, yet the accident rate is up 30 percent. 5/11
    The full text of every article summarized above appears below --
    Richard Diamond
    Office of the Majority Leader
    U.S. House of Representatives
    202-225-6007 / www.freedom.gov
    1. Read the original judge's decision in full (see especially footnote #7):
    http://freedom.gov/auto/cases/denver.pdf  11/6
    Sue Lindsay, Photo-radar ruling against city upheld, Rocky Mountain News, 
    November 5, 2002
    The Colorado Supreme Court Monday refused to hear the city's appeal of a 
    lower court ruling dismissing four photo-radar tickets.
    Last January, Denver County Judge Mary Celeste dismissed the $40 tickets 
    because they weren't issued by police officers, as required by current law.
    In May, a district court judge dismissed the city's appeal of Celeste's 
    ruling. Denver District Judge Joseph Meyer said the city can appeal county 
    court rulings dismissing traffic tickets only when a statute is declared 
    unconstitutional or unenforceable.
    The city then appealed to the Supreme Court, which now has refused to hear 
    the case.
    The ruling pertains only to the four tickets challenged by Denver lawyers 
    Gary Pirosko, Stuart Barr and one of their clients, Adell Shaflee, but the 
    case already has had a broad impact on Denver's program.
    The city dropped 446 pending photo-radar cases - each potentially worth at 
    least $40 to the city - in response to Celeste's ruling.
    The city also temporarily suspended photo radar to address the challenges 
    raised in the case. Photo-radar vans were put back on the street in June 
    under a newly enacted state law confining them to residential 
    neighborhoods, school zones and parks.
    A separate class-action suit seeking refunds for people who already had 
    paid photo-radar tickets was dismissed by another Denver district court 
    judge in September.
    2. Matthew Barrows, Back-seat driver: Judge fights red-light camera ticket 
    -- and wins, Sacramento Bee, November 4, 2002
    Presumed guilty.
    That's what Ed Jaszewski says is the attitude at Sacramento County traffic 
    court when it comes to motorists contesting red-light camera tickets.
    Like thousands of drivers, Jaszewski was captured on film while allegedly 
    running a red light, in his case at Watt Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard.
    But of all the drivers who have cried foul over the process, Jaszewski is 
    unique in two respects: He has worked as a traffic court judge and, unlike 
    most people, he fought his ticket and won.
    Last year at this time, Jaszewski, an attorney, was volunteering as a pro 
    tem judge at traffic court.
    He said he mostly was presiding over run-of-the-mill cases such as speeding 
    citations or stop sign violations when one day a batch of red-light photo 
    enforcement cases landed on his desk.
    Jaszewski said he learned how the tickets usually are handled by the court 
    when he acquitted one of his first cases.
    "The next thing I know, I'm handed a note that the traffic commissioner 
    wanted to see me," he said.
    He stepped into the hallway to meet the commissioner, who wanted to make 
    sure Jaszewski was clear on how the camera system works.
    On the same day, Jaszewski went home, opened his mailbox and found a 
    red-light citation with his name on it inside.
    It should be noted that Jaszewski isn't certain whether he ran a red light 
    on the day in question. He says he's pretty sure the light was yellow when 
    he crossed the intersection, but maybe it was red.
    What he is insistent about, however, is that the trial procedure is flawed.
    For one thing, he said, the prosecution never lays a legal foundation for 
    the evidence. In most cases in which a photo is used as evidence, the 
    photographer is called to the stand to verify that it's legitimate, that it 
    hasn't been doctored.
    [Snip --DBM]
    3. Jim Chipp, Gorge speeding tickets on the increase, The Independent 
    Herald, 05.11.2002
    Despite the Ngauranga Gorge fixed speed camera issuing more tickets, the 
    accident rate in the area is not changing for the better.
    Due to interruptions, last year the camera only issued 7459 speeding 
    tickets (20 a day) but it had issued 10,500 (about 38 a day) by October 
    this year.
    However, Land Transport Safety Authority accident figures show that serious 
    accidents involving injury on the gorge have remained steady at two a year 
    since 1999.
    And less serious injury accidents and non-injury accidents have slowly 
    increased over the same period, from a total of 35 in 1999 to 47 in 2001 (a 
    rise of 30 percent).
    National police infringement bureau head Inspector Matt Fitzsimons says the 
    fixed camera did not operate for all of 2001, because of technical 
    difficulties dealing with the new variable speed limits made possible by 
    the Ngauranga Gorge Automated Traffic Management System.
    The variable speed limit wasn't gazetted until May last year.
    "It took quite a while for us to get that issue sorted out," Mr Fitzsimons 
    The camera's tolerance in the area is now set at 10kph rather than the 85 
    percentile mark used internationally, in which the camera trigger is set to 
    catch the fastest 15 percent of drivers.
    Mr Fitzsimons says he is unable to give the total revenue collected by the 
    cameras, and neither can anybody else, because the figures are not collected.
    [Snip --DBM]
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